July has been an unexpectedly busy month. It started well with a visit from my 7 year old grand-daughter. It was her first solo visit to Italy and we both enjoyed it. It was pure pleasure to introduce her to the turtles in Cecilia Metella’s garden and in order to maintain the family tradition they produced a vegetarian scrigno for her lunch. We have been coming here for years and her mother was only four when she enjoyed her first delicious mouthful. Now all the grandchildren insist it has to be their first meal in Rome.
Jasmine was set on a bucket and spade so I reluctantly took her to the sea at Ostia. It was expensive Bedlam. We paid a small fortune for the doubtful pleasure of sitting on sun beds in the fifth row, an unbelievably long way from the sea and even she was not anxious to repeat the outing. It was a similar experience that inspired my annual Greek pilgrimage forty years ago.
During her visit I had a dental emergency and when I heard what it was going to cost me I blanched. A little research and asking around saw me cutting short my London trip and flying to Budapest for ‘Dental Tourism.’ I was met at the airport and driven to the lovely historic Corinthia Hotel. In the morning I met an impressive dental team and started my treatment. The facilities were superb, better than Rome, and the whole thing is going to cost less than a third of my Italian estimate. While I was there I explored the food and wine scene and visited the thermal swimming pools. Budapest is not expensive and a meal in a Michelin star restaurant with four glasses of matching wines, including the legendary Tokai cost less than 40 euros. This will be the first time I look forward to a return visit to the dentist
I enjoyed my last Roman school at the end of July but I am planning to cut back on this next year and concentrate on writing and my ‘Gourmet Adventures’. I have started writing a series of small cookbook, with 25 recipes each, and I will publish them as ebooks. The first ‘Seafood’ is already written and will be available soon. The second one will be Vegetables. I would like to say it is inspired by my vegetarian grandchildren but in reality vegetables play a leading role in traditional Mediterranean meals.
My youngest daughter, Georgina, has started a new job as the UK Project Manager for the registered charity EFTC – Education for the Children. The Esperanza school in Guatemala educate and feed children from the surrounding shanty towns. Guatemala has the lowest literacy rates in the whole of Central America, with over half of the population living in abject poverty and almost 50% of children under the age of five suffering from chronic malnutrition. When she telephones me her enthusiasm is infectious and I have been thinking of ways to help. I am attaching details if you would like to join me in making a small donation or sponsoring a child. However as I started to research Guatemala, the land of Eternal Spring, I became fascinated with the natural beauty of the country, and accounts of the Mayan heritage and the beautiful buildings dating from Spanish colonial times. I am planning to organize a trip to Guatemala for the end of 2014 to explore the rich heritage and scenic treasures but also to visit the school and volunteer a day’s work with the children. I know next to nothing about the country at this stage and I would be very interested in hearing from anyone with more experience or ideas.
In the meantime here is the link for more info and http://www.eftc.org.uk